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Now 25th in poll, UB goes on road to face Akron

There not much margin for error for so-called mid-major conference teams among those who vote in the national men's basketball polls.

Despite winning their only game of the week, 90-76, over Central Michigan, the University at Buffalo dropped two spots to No. 25 in the Associated Press media poll released Monday but actually gained a place, moving up to No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll.

UB is rated No. 22 in the NCAA NET ratings. A week ago they were No. 23.

This week, the Bulls face two dangerous Mid-American Conference opponents on the road starting with Tuesday night's game at Akron (14-9, 6-4 MAC) followed by a Saturday game at Toledo (20-4, 8-3 MAC). Akron is rated No. 117 in the NET and Toledo is No. 54. One reason the both look capable of upsets is home record against Division I opponents: Akron is 9-1 at Rhodes Arena; Toledo is 10-1 at Savage Hall.

Tuesday night's game in Akron, matches the MAC's highest scoring team, UB, against the leader in scoring defense. The Zips are allowing only 62.0 points per game, 14th in the nation. That includes last Friday's 72-53 win over Kent State. The Zips have won four of their last five games

Akron, coached by John Groce for the second year after Keith Dambrot left after a successful tenure to take the head job at Duquesne, has four players averaging in double figures.

Daniel Utomi, a 6-foot-6 junior, leads with a 13.9 points averaged. Loren Cristian Jackson,. a 5-8 transfer from Long Beach State, is second at 13.4 points per game and a team-high 74 assists, while senior Jimond Ivey is averaging 13.3 points, a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game, and 71 total assists. Protecting the rim is 6-10 junior Denk Riak, a transfer from East Carolina.

UB's 87-65 win at Akron last season ended a string of four losses at Rhodes. Last season was the first since 2011-12 that Buffalo swept Akron in the season series.

The Toledo game will be UB's last this season against MAC West Division teams. Four of the six remaining regular games after this week, will be at Alumni Arena. The exceptions are games at Miami (Ohio) and Ohio U. the first week in March.

Maryland and Kansas State moved past UB in this week's AP Poll while K-State moved ahead of the Bulls in the USA Today ranking. It's the 14th straight week UB has been ranked in the AP Top 25, adding to the Bulls' record for a MAC team in that poll.

UB 170 points in the media poll, which was actually more than the 153 they garnered last week. Cecil Couch of the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal again was their biggest backer. He had the Bulls 14th on his ballot. John Feinstein of the Washington Post had UB 18th on his.

UB, Toledo and then Akron were the three highest-ranked teams in the NET. Bowling Green was next at 122 and Central Michigan at 129.

Syracuse was ranked 48th. St. Bonaventure 158th.

In the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Rider leads at 191 in NET ranking. Canisius is fourth at 260. Monmouth, the first-place team in the MAAC, is at No. 277 behind six other teams in the conference. Niagara is 306th.


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